|In the Hands of Fate and War
Author: SweetDulcinea PM
A private, emotional moment between friends, prior to Max leaving for the war, in 1000 words. A birthday gift for EchoesOfTwilight. Jude/MaxRated: Fiction M - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Jude F. & Max C. - Words: 1,108 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 2 - Published: 07-29-10 - id: 6188171
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Fandom jumping? Not quite, my sweets. For the love of Jim Sturgess, this is a little birthday gift for the wonderful echoesoftwilight. If you've never seen Across the Universe, well, WTF is wrong with you? No copyright infringement intended to the makers of that movie or The Beatles. Special thanks to araeo, chele681, and yellowglue for prereading.
For visuals, google "Jim Sturgess and Joe Anderson" UNF
Uncertainty looms like a swaying pendulum, unspoken, but consuming everyone's thoughts. In less than eight hours, Max will report for the draft.
After all the goodbyes and a night of indulgence among friends, only two remain awake. Jude brushes a finger over Lucy's cheek, stained with the tracks of her tears. She understands more than anyone the devastation of loss to that ugly bitch of a war, and Jude is grateful that she's finally asleep. He, however, is unable to enjoy that silence and comfort.
He retreats to the living room, full of tattered and mismatched furniture, where he finds his friend. Max is unusually (but understandably) stoic, a blank look having overtaken his face as he stares at the wall. In his hand, a bottle of amber liquor is half empty. He doesn't acknowledge Jude until he collapses on the sagging sofa, and even then, it's only to hold out the bottle. Jude accepts, and once they've each had a drink in silence, he lights a final joint for them to share.
Drinking and smoking – it's how they met, how the bonds of their easy, carefree friendship began, but this occasion lacks the laughter and freedom they've grown so accustomed to.
The drugs calm their bodies and the alcohol dulls their thoughts, and after a stretch of silence, Max speaks.
"Take care of her for me."
Jude opens his mouth to respond, but Max waves a dismissive hand. He didn't even need to look to know what would have been said.
A sardonic smile pulls at his lips. "I know you will, but I had to say it. She's my sister, and I can't protect her from this. She'll need you when the bad news comes in."
"You'll make it home," Jude says, trying to sound sure of himself, but he's just as scared of losing Max as everyone else.
"In a body bag."
The reply comes quickly, flat and lacking emotion. Jude can tell that Max truly believes he's been given a death sentence. It tears him apart on the inside, leaving him feeling gutted and unable to offer any sort of comfort to this young man who is so deeply tied to every experience Jude has had since coming to the States.
He wants to punch Max for being a jackass, but instead he grips his chin and turns his face forcefully until they are eye to eye. Both have built up walls to protect themselves since Max's orders came in, but in this moment alone, honesty seeps in, and both sets of eyes soften.
It's too much. Max has tried desperately to hide his fear and anxiety over this fucked up twist of fate, but he can no longer pretend with the person who'd instantly become his best friend the night they met. The normally jovial and laid back young man squeezes his eyes shut under the intensity of Jude's stare. It's not enough to stop the tears that spill forth.
That is the only cue Jude needs. He can't change Max's orders. He can't go along and protect his friend. He can't even find the right words. Instead, he wraps his arms around Max's shoulders and pulls him into a tight hug. The blond slumps forward, accepting the comfort and silently sobbing until the front of Jude's shirt is wet with saline. Through it all, Jude simply holds on, willing to stay there all night if it's what his dear friend needs.
When the shaking calms and Max settles, he slowly pulls away from the comfort Jude has provided. As they separate, he looks back to the familiar eyes that unhinged him and sees something he never acknowledged until now.
"Don't say goodbye to me, please," Max requests. "I can't deal with another fucking goodbye."
Jude nods. "What shall I say then?"
They remain there, unmoving, for several moments. The two men simply stare at one another, uncertain how to handle the harsh reality of Max's departure. Finally, Max closes his eyes in a long blink, and when he opens them, a new determination is evident.
"Nothing," he breathes, barely louder than a whisper. His hand folds around Jude's neck, fingers weaving into shaggy, dark hair. With the smallest pull forward, he closes the gap between them and presses his lips to the other man's.
Jude feels like he should protest, but the notion is fleeting, and it disappears in a matter of seconds. His mouth relaxes into the kiss, but his arms tighten around Max once more, pulling them back into an embrace – so similar to the one they shared minutes prior, yet so completely different. It's slow and tentative, the soft sounds of kisses tickling their ears, and they both realize this moment is saying so much more than either of them would ever be able to verbalize. It is friendship and the unique bond they share, fear and foreboding, all wrapped up in a powerful package.
Max's tongue slides forward, the natural progression of any kiss he's ever had, and it traces along Jude's lower lip. For a brief moment, their tongues caress, and then they seem to pull back at the same time. Their eyes are closed, and their foreheads rest together. They squeeze each other – a final hug to end the encounter, and they both know there is nothing left to be said.
Max pats Jude's shoulder once as he rises, not looking back when he retreats to the tiny bed in the tiny room in the crowded apartment where so many memories have been made with crazy, wild, weird, amazing, irreplaceable friends.
He's ready to face the war, no matter how scared he still feels.
In the living room, Jude turns off the lamp and remains, shrouded by darkness. He drains the last few sips from the bottle they shared and closes his eyes. He knows he's been blessed with love and friendship, despite the mess with his father, but tonight, his heart is heavy, and tears flow freely.